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Benefits of Neurofeedback with Addictions


Addiction is a brain disorder. It is not a lack of discipline or a moral issue. We work directly with the brain to retrain patterns of dysfunction with Neurofeedback. Training helps to treat underlying conditions and supports clearer thinking. This technique builds a strong foundation for recovery and relapse prevention. In the brain, the reward network or pleasure network is the same as the addiction network, which includes the amygdala and hippocampus, as well as Brodmann areas 8, 9, 10, 30, 33. The difference is that addictive drugs (methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol, etc.) change the network dynamics by introducing neurophysiological imbalances.

Using drugs in excess activates excitatory dopaminergic neurons and makes them create excessive dopamine, which fills synaptic gaps and causes feelings of intense pleasure. When this experience is coupled with inhibitory neuron dysregulation, a snowball effect is created, which leads to an inability to restore the supplies of dopamine- resulting in intense craving for the addictive substance(s). When this happens, the balance of the system is lost. A dopamine depletion and circuit dysregulation disrupt the dopamine restoration process. The reduction of dopamine is linked to depression, and often addiction arises as a self-medicating attempt to deal with the depression.

Behavioral habits associated with the acquisition and use of addictive drugs occur in the basal ganglia of the brain. Our behavioral strategy is to replace the drug with natural sources of pleasure whenever the craving arises, thus rewiring the basal ganglia. This is the one-two punch of training addiction.

Resources on the Benefits of Neurofeedback with Addictions

  • Burkett, V. S., Cummins, J. M., Dickson, R. M., & Skolnick, M. (2005). An open clinical trial utilizing real-time EEG operant conditioning as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of crack cocaine dependence. Journal of Neurotherapy, 9(2), 27–48.

  • Callaway, T.G, Bodenhamer-Davis, E. (2008). Long-term follow-up of a clinical replication of the Peniston Protocol for chemical dependency. Journal of Neurotherapy, 12(4), 243–259.

  • deBeus, R. J. (2007). Quantitative electroencephalography-guided versus Scott/Peniston neurofeedback with substance abuse outpatients: A pilot study. Biofeedback, 35(4), 146–151.

  • Fahrion, S. L., Walters, E. D., Coyne, L., & Allen, T. (1992). Alterations in EEG amplitude, personality factors and brain electrical mapping after alpha theta brainwave training: A controlled case study of an alcoholic in recovery. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 16, 547–552.

  • Fahrion, S. L. (1995). Human potential and personal transformation. Subtle Energies, 6, 55–88.

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